New York City Ballet Promotes Unity Phelan and Indiana Woodward to Principal, Roman Mejia to Soloist

October 8, 2021

Thursday night, New York City Ballet officially announced the promotions of three dancers: soloists Unity Phelan and Indiana Woodward to principal, and corps de ballet member Roman Mejia to soloist. The news comes as several of the company’s principal dancers—Abi Stafford, Ask la Cour, Lauren Lovette and Maria Kowroski, as well as soloist Lauren King—bid adieu during NYCB’s fall season.

Indiana Woodward dances onstage in front of a blue backdrop and wears a cream-colored dress, pink tights and pointe shoes. She performs a relevé on her right foot and lifts her left leg into retiré, looking out over her left hand, which is stretched out in front of her, and holds her right arm out to the side.
Indiana Woodward in Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Phelan and Mejia received the news on Wednesday night, right after dancing together in Balanchine’s Western Symphony. Phelan told the New York Times that artistic director Jonathan Stafford and associate artistic director Wendy Whelan had originally intended to tell them on Thursday, but the dancers’ performances inspired them to do it early. The next day, they promoted Woodward, a sparkling soubrette, as well. The last female soloist to be named principal dancer at NYCB was Lovette, in 2015.

Roman Mejia, wearing a black cowboy costume with blue trim and a red bandana, performs a revoltade during a performance. Behind, a group of dancers dressed as cowboys and saloon girls watch.
Roman Mejia in Balanchine’s Western Symphony. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Six NYCB principals are retiring during the 2021–22 season—in addition to the four mentioned, Gonzalo Garcia and Amar Ramasar will give their final bows in February and May, respectively. This creates a major shift in the company’s roster, one shaped in Stafford and Whelan’s vision. With several more slots opening up, and so much talent among the soloist and corps ranks, the question remains: Who will be promoted next? We’ll have to wait and see.